“Hope rises. It rises from the heart of life, here and now, beating with joy and sorrow. Hope longs. It longs for good to be affirmed, for justice and love to prevail, for suffering to be alleviated, and for life to flourish in peace. Hope remembers the dreams of those who have gone before and reaches for connection with them across the boundary of death. Hope acts—to bless, to protest, and to repair. Hope can be disappointed, especially when it is individual rather than shared, or when—even as shared aspiration—it encounters entrenched opposition. To thrive, hope requires a home, a sustaining structure of community, meaning, and ritual. Only with such a habitation can hope manifest the spiritual stamina it needs to confront evil, endure through trouble, and “hold fast to that which is good.”
- Rebecca Parker and John Buehrens
Rebecca Parker and John Buehrens describe progressive theology as a hope-filled theological framework in their book House for Hope published in 2010 by Beacon Press. Progressive theology embodies reverence for the sacred, nourishes community life, and aspires to carry forward the dreams of our forbearers who have responded to legacies of the violence and injustice that harm our bodies and souls. Such a theology is desperately needed in this time.
The quote cited on this page is one of my favorites by Parker and Beuhrens. They name characteristics of hope which rises, longs, remembers, and can be disappointed. When you think of hope, what words would you use to describe it? Hope can be pushed aside as simple optimism and unrealistic expectations or it can be lifted up as fuel for remaining engaged and moving forward.
Hope is the theme for this month and one worthy of our attention and exploration. Rebecca Solnit who has written several books and articles on hope reminds us that hope is just a starting point. She says, “Think of hope as a match but not the tinder or the blaze. To matter, to change the world, you also need devotion and will and you need to act.” MSUS is a home for hope. It is a place where we all can build the spiritual stamina to live by our faith and values in our own lives, this community, and out in the world.
If we are to be a place of progressive theology it important that we can clearly state what are and why we exist. We have started conversations on re-examining MSUS’ mission. We held a congregational forum in October and had a discussion with the Board of Trustees. What has emerged is a level of energy, recognition, and hope for what we are and what we can become. This is the first step—naming who we are and what we hope to do together. Our vision for the future will need to be connected with concrete and realistic plans.
I feel tremendously hopeful and curious about our exploration at the January 6th congregational retreat on MSUS’ mission. Please put it on your calendar and come prepared to share your observations, reflections, and hope for this faith community. Let’s see where our collective hope leads us.